By the late 1970’s, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce determined that the Sign required a complete rebuilding – carrying a price tag of a quarter million dollars. Thankfully, some of showbiz’s biggest names came to the rescue.
In ’77, Fleetwood Mac pledged a charity concert, but local residents prevented it. The next year, however, Hugh Hefner hosted a gala fundraiser at the Playboy Mansion, where individual Sign letters were ceremonially ‘auctioned’ off at $27,700 per letter. The effort to preserve the Sign brought together an odd mix of celebrity sponsors: Glam-rocker Alice Cooper ‘bought’ an “O” (in honor of Groucho Marx), while singing cowboy Gene Autry sponsored an “L” and Andy Williams sponsored the “W.”
Thanks to the help of these and other donors, the Sign was poised for its overhaul. The old Sign was scrapped in August ’78, and yes, for three lonely months Hollywood had no Sign.
194 tons of concrete, enamel and steel later, the Sign was re-born, poised and polished for a new millennium.